Name That Chateau
Bila-Haut 2016 Cotes-du-Roussillon, France ($15) -- Michel Chapoutier's value lineup of wines from the Languedoc region tells you all you need to know about him. Even at the lower price rungs (compared with his coveted but expensive red wines from the northern Rhone), he just can't help himself; he is as committed to quality at $15 as he is at $150. The Cotes-du-Roussillon blanc is an impressive wine for its complexity, simplicity, and appealing balance and freshness. A blend of grenache blanc, grenache gris and macabeu, it shows luscious notes of pear, crisp apple and citrus. It's clean and refreshing and utterly delightful. Rating: 91.
Olianas 2016 Cannonau di Sardegna DOC, Italy ($19.99) -- Fresh and fruity with a floral note, this wine is the Beaujolais of Sardinia. Tannins are modest and soft, making it enjoyable when young and perfect for serving chilled on a warm summer day. Red berries and violets come to mind. Serve it with light appetizers, grilled chicken or light pasta dishes. Rating: 87.
Black Kite 2015 Chardonnay, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($48) -- This cool enclave in Monterey County has a long history of scintillating, complex chardonnays that seem to magically retain acidity and freshness while reaching exceptional levels of ripeness and flavor. The Soberanes chardonnay from Black Kite exhibits notes of wood spice, lemon oil, ripe pear and delicious golden apple. It won't be easy to find: Only 135 cases (about five barrels) were made. Rating: 95.
Tinto Figuero 2014 Vinas Viejas, Ribera del Duero DO, Spain ($67.99) -- Sourced from 60-year-old vines in the town of La Horra, this is Figuero's most elegant wine. Concentrated and intense with impressive palate weight and depth, it dances across the palate with silky tannins that are the direct result of vine age. Showing inviting aromas of blackberry and cassis, and hints of vanilla and wood spice, it's a showstopper than can be enjoyed now or cellared for another 15 to 20 years. Rating: 95.
Attilio Ghisolfi 2015 Nebbiolo, Langhe DOC, Italy ($34.99) -- Ghisolfi's langhe nebbiolo could use an additional four to five years in the cellar, but with the right dish (say, osso bucco) it's ready now. It's beautifully scented and shows notes of earth, black cherry and wood spice. The gorgeous nose leads to a palate that exhibits impressive black-cherry fruit that is hiding behind a wall of tannin waiting to be liberated. Only time can do that, or a savory meat dish. Rating: 93.
Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.